Groningen’s makers are strong in illustration, design and sustainability. This is the first in our NEW series of Groningen Makers, in which we highlight the backstory behind their products.
Meet the Makers
Jozephine Duker and Willem Van Landeghem founded Unit 30, a design studio specialised in ceramic product design. Jozephine and Willem share a strong love for ceramics and an interest in how people feel connected with objects and their surroundings.
Their story starts back when they both followed a BA Product Design at ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem. They fell in love with Design and each other. After their graduation, Jozephine and Willem move to London to follow an MA at the Royal College of Art. Willem specialised in Ceramics & Glass, and Jozephine studied Product Design.
Unit 30 was born after a successful collaboration for the London Design Festival in 2010. ‘‘Creating work together felt natural and refreshing. Individually we have a different ‘style’, we loved to see how well they combined.’’ Now based in Groningen, you can find Unit 30 at the ‘Het Werk’ on the Oosterparkwijk, where 16 other creative entrepreneurs work; from artists, furniture makers, illustrators to a cake maker.
A Love for Clay
‘‘We are fascinated by the transformation of clay; a material straight from the earth that becomes liquid in the production process and solid as a finished product.’’ Before diving into production, Jozephine and Willem start their design process from a story; the story of a place, an organisation’s identity, or a personal story. ‘‘Our search in the design process is to make feelings and associations tangible, so people will feel emotionally attached to the product.‘’
The design takes shape while sketching and modelling, always leaving space for one’s own interpretation. The hands-on design process, ‘‘we enjoy working with moulds and play with the elements in the production process; like exchanging parts and use of colour.’’ Products are made in small quantities; each piece is made by hand with attention and care. For some designs, such as City Cups, Jozephine and Willem work together with a production partner.
The idea for City Cups came from a joint project with Koffiestation. Together, they built a pavilion ‘Kopje Koffie’ for the Grand Thearter to show how a cup of coffee is made. Koffiestation roasted the beans and Unit 30 made, on the spot, porcelain cup inspired by the architectural characteristics of the Grand Theater. In love with the idea, they decided to go on a larger scale.
Thanks to crowdfunding, 3 City Cups of Groningen were introduced in 2019. Inspired by the Groningen architecture of three characteristic buildings, Jozephine and Willem tried to capture the feel and atmosphere in the cups. They are not stopping here! Jozephine and Willem are working on an extension of the series for major cities in the Netherlands and abroad.
We were so pleased to share with you their journey and passion. We invite you to drop by City Central to discover the story behind the Martini Tower, Korenbeurs, and Groninger Museum City Cups.
Join the Movement
Are you a local maker? We would like to hear from you! Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credits: Unit 30, Jozephine Duker and Willem Van Landeghem